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Product Lab - October 2006

Published: October 6, 2006
Carousel 1 crafts the '68 STP Turbine
Product: 1968 No. 60 Joe Leonard/STP Lotus 56 Turbine
Maker: Carousel 1
Stock No.: 5251
MSRP: $139.95
Availability: Great Planes

Product: Carousel 1 brings the 1968 wedge-shaped turbine to life in 1:18 scale in one of its most spectacular models to date. This one is the No. 60, driven to the pole position by former motorcycle champion Joe Leonard, but there were two other nearly identical STP-sponsored turbines that year, so who knows if Frank Dalton and crew will spin out more limited numbers of those down the road.

In any case, Indy race buffs and die-cast collectors will love the Day-Glo red STP turbine for its spectacular looks and its history.

Performance: Carousel 1 nails the car's look and develops the details to deliver an exciting die-cast racer that historically matches the real machine. The color is authentic and was the most recognizable and famous race car color of the era. Everyone knew that radiant red-orange car was an STP machine.

What's impressive, though, is to take off the car's large upper body and reveal the detailed cockpit with dash wiring, seatbelts and the form-fitting black seat. Note, too, that the shoulder harness is anchored to the large roll bar, just beyond the cockpit.

Behind all that is the turbine itself, again with wiring and a creamy cover that includes the two air intakes. Fluid filler caps and plumbing are included, and all the suspension detail is first rate. With the body off, it's also easier to see the unique four-wheel drive system and gearing at each wheel.

Marketing: The wedge turbine was a beautiful car, well ahead of its day. Rules ended its run, but die-cast lovers won't care about its short history. They'll want this because of its unique place in Indy Car lore.

Place it ahead of other Carousel 1 models you may have in your display case. Its color alone will stop people in their tracks. While Joe Leonard was a successful motorcycle and Indy Car racer, this is all about the car and its history. It'll nearly sell itself on that alone!

-Reviewed by Mark Savage

  • A great piece of Indy car lore
  • Unique colors
  • Awesome details

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    Precision Craft's N scale EMD E7 looks and sounds authentic
    Product: EMD E7 passenger diesel
    Maker: Precision Craft Models
    Road Names:Baltimore & Ohio (original blue-and-gray), Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (silver with black nose stripes), Great Northern (original orange and green), New York Central (gray lightning stripe), Pennsylvania (tuscan with five stripes), Southern Pacific (Daylight), Union Pacific
    MSRP: $239.99 with sound and DCC; $129.99 without sound or DCC; $79.99 unpowered

    Product: Precision Craft Models recently brought the world of sound to N scale locomotives with its EMD E7 diesel. This good-looking model runs well, and its factory-installed LokSound sound unit provides realistic engine, horn and other effects.

    Performance: The model has a one-piece plastic shell, with most details molded in place, including air-intake screens and grilles and exhaust stacks. Separate details include air horns, an operating rear diaphragm, and wire grab irons. Some details vary based on prototypes, such as the Pennsylvania's unique rooftop radio antennas.

    Precision Craft offers the model equipped with DCC and LokSound (as on my sample), as well as powered with no decoder or sound (but with a socket for a decoder), or unpowered. My sound-equipped sample ran smoothly, and the sounds were realistic and easy to control with DCC. The model will run on conventional DC without modification, albeit with the engine noise only. (Precision Craft offers its DCMaster control module that will enable DC users to control other sound features).

    Marketing: As with any sound-equipped model, getting the locomotive out of the box and onto a test track so customers can hear it will spur sales. Multiple road numbers are available, and B units are available for several schemes, so look for the opportunity for multiple sales. Also look for sales for matching passenger cars from various manufacturers.

    -Reviewed by Jeff Wilson

  • Equipped with sound
  • DCC decoder installed
  • Smooth running

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    Like the real thing, AtlasO's Alco C628 is a mainline mover
    Product: Alco C628 Locomotive, Phase 1
    Stock No.: 2331-1 (Atlantic Coast Line, 2-rail DC)
    Road names:Atlantic Coast Line, Delaware & Hudson, Lehigh Valley, Louisville & Nashville, Southern Pacific
    MSRP: $439.95

    Product:AtlasO has produced a very nice model of one of the true monsters of mainline railroading, Alco's C628. Billed during its construction in 1963 as "the most powerful single-engine diesel locomotive ever built in the United States," the prototype locomotives boasted 2,750 hp.
    The model features correct body styling for the road name, metal handrails, dual flywheel-equipped motors, selectable classification lights, and many small details such as grab irons and chains. Models are available in 3-rail TMCC, 2-rail DC, and unpowered 2- and 3-rail versions.

    Performance: Like its real-world counterpart, this is one big locomotive, even by O-scale standards. After unpacking it, I put it next to an AtlasO GP9, and the C628 was at least a quarter again as long. Its die-cast frame gives it great heft and durability.
    The 2-rail locomotive is recommended to run on 40-inch curves or bigger. However, I ran our sample on my layout which has 36-inch curves, and it seemed just as happy with the tighter radius. For looks though, it's probably better to stick to the larger curves.
    As for pulling power, I put a 10-car train of mostly AtlasO and Trainman rolling stock behind it, and the C628 walked off as if it were by itself. Its two flywheel equipped motors run smoothly, driving all six axles. Power is picked up through eight of the dozen wheels.

    Marketing: Fans of Alco locomotives and big engines in general are going to be all over this model. Atlas packs the model with a plastic insert that can double as a display stand. If you don't have one on display in your shop, at least take the top box lid off and let your customers get a good look at this big bruiser.

    -Reviewed by Hal Miller

  • Lots of people like Alcos
  • Captures bulk of the prototype
  • Runs very smoothly

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    Carrera's Mustang is a modern twist on a vintage car
    Product: 1967 Ford Mustang
    Maker: Carrera
    Stock No.: 27139
    MSRP: $48

    Product: The hottest car movie of the summer was The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Along with all of the import cars, there was a 1967 Ford Mustang.

    However, this wasn't any ordinary '67 'Stang; it had an RB-series Nissan Skyline engine under the hood! Some might say it's blasphemy, but it creates for an interesting hybrid of American muscle-car looks and Japanese high-tech performance.

    Performance: Carrera's 1:32 '67 Mustang, part of its Evolution lineup, has a glossy green-metallic paint job with white racing stripes, well-replicated wheels, chrome trim and a driver figure. The front and rear windshields are green-tinted clear plastic.

    The standard Carrera components are present: An adjustable sliding magnet, a switch to allow the car to run both ways on the track, and a large, four-contact guide. For a modern touch, the car comes with contemporary-looking wheels and xenon-style headlamps.

    On the track, the Mustang lives up to its name: this is a quick car! Mashing the throttle creates very brisk acceleration, and there is a fair amount of brake, too. Handling is above average and can be customized, thanks to that adjustable magnet.

    Marketing: The Fast and the Furious is a popular license, and this allows for a few marketing options. You could sell it alongside Carrera's Nissan 350Z (another car found in the movie) or you could place it with other muscle cars. Mustangs are hot, and so is The Fast and the Furious, so this should be an easy sell.

    -Reviewed by Andy Lilienthal

  • Popular subject
  • Good performance
  • Interesting U.S.-Japanese hybrid

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    Ninco goes retro with Porsche 356-A Coupe Klassik
    Product: Porsche 356-A Coupe Klassik
    Maker: Ninco
    Stock No.: 50418
    MSRP: $55.98
    Availability: Model Rectifier Corp.

    Product: These days, anything retro is hot, from 1:1 cars, such as the Mini Cooper and VW Beetle, to model kit reissues. The retro phenomenon has hit the slot car industry, too.

    A good example of this is Ninco's Porsche 356-A Coupé Klassik. The 1:1 Porsche 356 was produced from 1948-1965, and is often referred to as one of the top sports cars of all time. It has a devout following of collectors and racers alike.

    Performance: This 356 wears a new blue paint scheme with yellow racing stripes. Like the previous iterations, this model has an NC-1 engine and no traction magnet. It's a good-looking vehicle, with crisp markings, shiny paint, a driver figure and various chrome-plated parts.

    On the track, the 356 performs admirably, even for a car without a magnet. The power-to-weight ratio feels just right; not overpowered, not underpowered. In fact, with more power, the car would be very difficult to control.

    Marketing:Because this is a retro vehicle without a magnet, make sure to point hardcore, seasoned slot car racers towards this car - especially those who enjoy cars without magnets. The car's combination of looks and performance make this car a winner.

    Place this vehicle with your other vintage or 1950s racecars, and suggest buying a vintage racing companion for the 356.

    -Reviewed by Andy Lilienthal

  • Good-looking
  • Admirable retro performance
  • Run to race with other '50s cars

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    Marklin version of Days of Wonder game adds new features
    Product: Ticket to Ride Marklin Edition
    Maker: Days of Wonder
    Stock No.: DOW7205
    MSRP: $45

    Product: Ticket to Ride Märklin Edition is the latest addition to Days of Wonder's successful railroad board games, which include the original Ticket to Ride (featuring North America) and Ticket to Ride Europe.

    Like its siblings, the game is for two to five players and includes a colorful game map (featuring Germany this time around), an assortment of plastic playing pieces and scoring counters, a deck of resource cards, a deck of destination cards called "tickets," and a full-color instruction booklet.

    The game also includes a sturdy box with a plastic storage tray for keeping everything organized. The main thing that sets this version apart from the others is that the resource cards feature photos of actual Märklin model trains, adding a collector's element to the game for the model train enthusiast.

    Performance: The basic game mechanics are the same for all Ticket to Ride games. Players must collect corresponding sets of resource cards that match the color of the rail routes they wish to build. Building rail routes is determined by the destination tickets the players are dealt at the beginning of the game, and for each route successfully completed, the player is awarded points.

    Once a player has built a rail route that connects several cities, he may then activate one of his passengers to travel that route and collect the most expensive merchandise tokens in each of those cities. The merchandise tokens count towards the final point total, so players need to act quickly before a city is out of stock of Märklin products!

    Game play is fast-paced, and a complete game takes about an hour. It also tends to keep you on the edge of your seat - every time I've played it, the game comes down to the final completed ticket for determining the winner.

    Marketing: Days of Wonder continues to produce fun and imaginative games, and the Märklin Edition may be one of their best. The innovative passenger component adds a fresh element of strategy to this version of Ticket to Ride, making it very appealing to customers who may already own one or both of the previous games.

    The Märklin connection also gives the game the extra selling point of being a collectors' product. While there aren't as many Märklin model train collectors in the United States as there are in Europe, don't discount the collectors' market for some additional sales potential.

    -Reviewed by David Popp

  • Large, colorful game board
  • One-hour playing time
  • Has features unique to edition

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